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Perham bean bag tournament sets world record during Freezin' for a Reason

Teams set up for the bean bag tournament outside of Zorbaz on Little Pine Lake during Saturday’s Freezin’ for a Reason fundraiser for Kinship of the Perham Area, a mentoring program that pairs caring adults with children. The event raised more than $15,000. Kim Jordahl/Special to the Focus1 / 8
Perham Family Dentistry, with two pregnant plungers, all dressed as Dunkin’ Donuts, dived individually during the Kinship Polar Plunge on Saturday. They were awarded the prize for best costume during the fundraiser, and reportedly bribed the judges and Tri-State divers with doughnuts. Debbie Irmen/FOCUS2 / 8
An enthusiastic crowd was on hand to watch the people crazy enough to join in on the Kinship Polar Plunge in Perham Saturday. Debbie Irmen/FOCUS3 / 8
Hans and his five Beer Babes, Ingrid, Hilda, Frieda, Olga and Sylvia dance a Scandinavian jig to impress judges during the Freezin’ for a Reason Kinship fundraiser held Saturday. The Polar Plunge is a popular part of the annual event. Debbie Irmen/FOCUS4 / 8
Pete Guck gives a hefty toss of the bean bag during the Freezin’ for a Reason bean bag tournament on Little Pine Lake at Saturday’s Kinship fundraiser. Sixty teams participated in the tourney, which was played under the lights of two trucks until 8:30 p.m. Kim Jordahl/Special to the Focus5 / 8
Perham attorney Dennis Happel, as Captain America, is a perennial plunger. Here he shows off his dive moves in one of five jumps. Debbie Irmen/FOCUS6 / 8
Wade Sjoule hands over a wade of moola to raise $2,500 requested by the judges before they would take the Polar Plunge during Saturday’s Freezin’ for a Reason Kinship fundraiser. Bremer and United Community banks, along with other businesses and individuals, ultimately raised $2,600. Debbie Irmen/FOCUS7 / 8
Paul Kloster goes into his signature dive during the Polar Plunge to benefit Kinship. About 70 jumped into the frigid waters of Little Pine Lake near Zorbaz on Saturday. Debbie Irmen/FOCUS8 / 8

A weekend fundraiser to benefit children in the Perham area broke a record, raised about $15,000, and was the reason about 70 people willingly jumped into the frigid waters of a local lake.

The annual Freezin' for a Reason event, held Saturday, featured a bean bag toss tournament, polar plunge and lots of music, food and fun, according to Jill Shipman, director of Kinship of the Perham Area.

The bean bag toss set a world record, she said, with about 30 teams of people playing the popular game on the ice on the lake. She added that there wasn't much competition for the title, as "we are a new category."

Truck lights illuminated the playing field until about 8:30 p.m. Saturday, meaning people were essentially playing in the dark. Local boys Zach Langendorfer and Paul Swanson were the eventual victors.

The polar plunge, another popular activity of the fundraiser, drew 12 teams this year, which translated to about 70 people, according to Shipman. They jumped into the freezing waters of Little Pine Lake behind Zorbaz, including one young man from South Africa.

To ensure the safety of those brave enough to jump, scuba divers Gary Thompson and Mark Wohlert, from Tri-State Divers of Detroit Lakes, were in the water assisting people. Also on hand, egging on the the teams of jumpers, were radio announcers Dave Howey and Gene Jahnke from Lakes Radio in Perham.

Music was provided by the Confused Brothers band, from Minneapolis, which played for a couple of hours on the ice. Two of the band members, Chad and Luke Hofland, are Perham High School graduates, Shipman said.

Notably, this was the last year of Kinship's polar plunge.

"We're going to switch (the event) up a bit," Shipman said; next year, there'll be a golf tournament on ice.

To commemorate the final plunge, judges Jen Hanson, Julie Baumgart and Sheri Johnson agreed to jump—the first time they ever have— if the assembled crowd could raise $2,500. With significant donations from Bremer Bank and United Community Bank, along with individual donations, $2,600 was raised in short order.

Another aspect of the overall fundraiser was the opportunity to win prizes.For the price of a raffle ticket, people could eat free food from 1 to 3 p.m., provided by the Perham Locker Plant and Zorbaz, and were entered into drawings for a gun, bean bag boards, a Yeti cooler filled with beverages and a cash prize of $1,000.

The gun went to Al Berbe; Amanda Fjerstad won the bean bag boards and Tammy Sturdevant won the cooler. Joan Fudge was awarded the cash prize.

"I'm glad (Fudge) won," Shipman said, explaining that Fudge has served the mentorship program for 15 years. "She gives so much to the Kinship program and the community."

Shipman has already started thinking about next year's golf on ice tournament, suggesting various surprises for getting the ball across the ice to the next hole. The venue will be at the familiar Zorbaz location, she said, and will include the bean bag tournament, too.

Overall, this year's event was deemed a success, according to Shipman.

The Kinship program pairs adult volunteers with kids to provide a nurturing relationship of friendship. Caring adults are always needed, Shipman said, saying there are 42 children on a waiting list.

Mentors spend a few hours a month with their kids, doing activities such as baking, walking, swimming, playing board games or even just being a listening ear. To become a mentor, call Kinship of the Perham Area, which covers Otter Tail County, at 346-7102.